Friday, September 9, 2011


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ASHRAE Government Affairs Update, 9/9/11

v  Senate Committee Advances Energy & Water Funding Bill

v  Importance of Resuming Work on the 2011 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey Spotlighted by Senate Funding Subcommittee

v  President Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Legislation that Would Repair & Modernize 35,000 Schools

Senate Committee Advances Energy & Water Funding Bill
Earlier this week the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Energy & Water Development Appropriations Bill. This $31.6 billion act would provide fiscal year 2012 funding for several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy, and Energy Information Administration. A comparison of highlighted programs important to the building industry is below:

Difference Between Senate and House
Building Technologies Program
$210.5 million
$150 million
-$60.5 million
State Energy Program
$50 million
$25 million
-$25 million
Weatherization Assistance Program
$174.3 million
$33 million
-$141 million
Energy Information Administration
$105 million
$105 million

The next action on this legislation will likely be inclusion in a large, “omnibus” funding bill that will include most other federal appropriations bills for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins October 1.

Prior to final action on the Senate Energy & Water funding bill, Members of Congress will negotiate to work out the differences between the House and Senate measures, with the final amounts likely somewhere between the House and Senate versions.

Importance of Resuming Work on the 2011 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey Spotlighted by Senate Funding Subcommittee

The Senate Energy & Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee issued a report earlier this week that accompanies that Senate Energy & Water Development Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2012, and calls on the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to resume work on the 2011 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS).

The Energy & Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee is the Senate funding committee that drafts the Senate’s annual Energy & Water Development Appropriations Bill.

CBECS is a nationally representative survey of commercial building energy consumption and expenditures, and their energy-related characteristics in the United States. The Survey has been conducted about once every four years. “Commercial buildings” in the CBECS context includes all buildings in which at least half of the floor space is used for a purpose that is not residential, industrial, or agricultural; thus it includes building types that might not traditionally be considered “commercial”, such as schools, correctional institutions, and buildings used for religious worship .

The most recent CBECS data available are from the 2003 edition of the Survey. The 2007 data are flawed and unusable due to data collection errors that have since been corrected for the 2011 edition of the Survey. Work on the 2011 CBECS has been halted due to appropriations reductions in fiscal year 2011 to EIA, which oversees the Survey.

The specific language from the Senate report is below, but what this boils down to is that because of this report language (which helps convey Congressional intent), EIA is more likely to use funds they receive in the coming fiscal year to resume work on the 2011 CBECS, however this action is still dependent upon the level of funding EIA receives from Congress for fiscal year 2012.

ASHRAE has been leading a large coalition in support of encouraging the resumption of work on the 2011 CBECS.

The Senate report language follows:

Appropriations, 2011 .............................................................................1 $95,409,000
Budget estimate, 2012 ........................................................................... 123,957,000
House allowance .................................................................................... 105,000,000
Committee recommendation ................................................................. 105,000,000
1 Does not include rescission of $86,300,000 under Public Law 112–10.

The Committee recommends $105,000,000 for the Energy Information Administration. The Committee notes that the Energy Information Administration has announced that it will not release the 2007 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey [CBECS] due to data and sample flaws resulting from the survey method employed. The 2003 CBECS remains the most current survey of commercial building efficiency used as the baseline for The Energy Star program at U.S. EPA, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] program, and Green Globes. In light of the age of the 2003 survey and the failure of the 2007 study, the Committee recommends that the Energy Information Administration complete a new Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey during fiscal year 2012.

President Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Legislation that Would Repair & Modernize 35,000 Schools

Addressing a joint session of Congress last night, President Barack Obama laid out a proposal called the American Jobs Act, which is designed to spur America’s economy and job growth – much of which would be done through infrastructure projects, including building construction and modernization.

Details of the proposed legislation are not yet available, however the White House has released an overview of what the President would like to see in this bill. Below are highlighted building-related sections of this plan. The full overview is available at

Modernizing Over 35,000 Schools – From Science Labs and Internet-Ready Classrooms to Renovated Facilities: The President is proposing a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools – investments that will create jobs, while improving classrooms and upgrading our schools to meet 21st century needs. This includes a priority for rural schools and dedicated funding for Bureau of Indian Education funded schools. Funds could be used for a range of emergency repair and renovation projects, greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos abatement and removal, and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and to upgrade technology in our schools. The President is also proposing a $5 billion investment in modernizing community colleges (including tribal colleges), bolstering their infrastructure in this time of need while ensuring their ability to serve future generations of students and communities.

Establishing a National Infrastructure Bank: The President is calling for Congress to pass a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion, in order to leverage private and public capital and to invest in a broad range of infrastructure projects of national and regional significance, without earmarks or traditional political influence. The Bank would be based on the model Senators Kerry and Hutchison have championed while building on legislation by Senators Rockefeller and Lautenberg and the work of long-time infrastructure bank champions like Rosa DeLauro and the input of the President’s Jobs Council.

Project Rebuild: Putting People Back to Work Rehabilitating Homes, Businesses and Communities. The President is proposing to invest $15 billion in a national effort to put construction workers on the job rehabilitating and refurbishing hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses. Building on proven approaches to stabilizing neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreclosures, Project Rebuild will bring in expertise and capital from the private sector, focus on commercial and residential property improvements, and expand innovative property solutions like land banks. This approach will not only create construction jobs but will help reduce blight and crime and stabilize housing prices in areas hardest hit by the housing crisis.

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